The Coming Fight Over Brexit

Professor Jonathan Davies, director of CURA, offers his thoughts on Brexit.

After yesterday’s staggering Brexit vote, it is impossible to predict what lies ahead. It is clear, however, that responsibility lies at the feet of both the British and European elite. By a thousand cuts it has immiserated, marginalised, impoverished and fragmented working class communities, some of which voted by overwhelming majorities to leave the EU. It can be no surprise in these dire conditions that resentment is boiling across the continent. This vote is a seismic moment in the rolling crisis of Britain’s post-war economic and political system. It is a moment in the rolling crisis of Europe, where vast territories have been laid waste by waves of crisis and austerity.

For many people, the grinding realities of austerity and the lack of hope for the future manifest in the form of virulent anti-immigration sentiments. The politics of despair are rife. Fears have been successfully channelled by the ugly dog-whistle politics of the leave campaigns. This is extremely damaging, but there is nothing new about it. Provoking racism to deflect attention from their own actions has long been a tried and tested policy of right wing elites. And it can be a lot easier to blame other people at the bottom of the heap than to hold the powerful to account.

Yet nationalist resentment is not the only story. Many working class people reject racism – especially in London. The people of Spain and Greece show that a politics of hope is possible in their struggles against austerity, despite the awful conditions they face. Like it or not, the struggle ahead will be over the meaning of Brexit. This is a huge challenge for people who believe in solidarity, open borders, love the diversity immigration brings and reject the delusion that stopping immigration will mean more jobs for “British workers”. At its height in the early 2000s, the anti-globalisation movement rallied around the slogan “another world is possible”. Our common challenge is to find a way of making it happen.

 Jonathan Davies is Professor of Critical Policy Studies and Director of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity at De Montfort Univiersity.

5 thoughts on “The Coming Fight Over Brexit

  • June 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Sadly, the fiscal and monetary consequences of the vote will fall disproportionately on the majority of those that voted to leave. This, in turn, is likely to aggravate the divides between age groups, communities, regions, and socio-economic groupings. There are disturbing parallels emerging from the 2008 banking crash when compared to the subsequent effects on Europe post 1929. This must be uppermost in the minds of all UK politicians and policy-makers as it appears to be paramount with their European counterparts.

  • June 24, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Communities have been broken and whole swathes of the country feel marginalised. The challenge is to build a more cohesive, less divisive and more equal society. It is a challenge that we all need to face up to and to hold our politicians to account for their actions.

    • June 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks Alasdair. Do you think the vote to leave will facilitate or obstruct meeting this challenge?

  • Pingback: Looking (and thinking and acting) beyond Brexit | Centre for Urban Research on Austerity

  • Pingback: Looking (and thinking and acting) beyond Brexit | Centre for Urban Research on Austerity

Comments are closed.